A couple weeks ago I began a project in the dark, working at night I snuck around creating a piece of public art that was driven by the passion of the people around me. It represents the endurance of the Puerto Rican people. I did not grow up here, the history of this beautiful island, one of struggle and oppression is not mine to tell. I have lived here for 9 years and I have strived to learn about the complexities found here while embracing the traditions and the culture, but one look at me and you know- no Boriqua here.
I have fallen in love with this island, it’s people and it’s vibrant culture. I would love to be able to step forward and create art with this respect that I have for this island and it’s complicated history but I often fear that it will seem like typical cultural appropriation. The thing is- I struggle with feelings of anger and disappointment for the country that I was born into because of my understanding of the complex history of Puerto Rico and her relationship with the United States.
The two white stripes which represent liberty and peace have been omitted because that which they represent- independence, has yet to be achieved. Despite this, the island grows from the seeds that were buried during Hurricane Maria. The people of Puerto Rico are resilient and strong and that only became more clear to the world after the storm. The star which represents Puerto Rico’s government is stained black with a century of gross corruption and greed- yet there is hope growing in the darkness of oppression. I watch many different generations of Puerto Ricans step forward into agriculture, small business ownership and support for their island and I want them to know- I see you, I feel your strength and I support you.
With all this in mind I would like to present this work as an ally, as an admirer of this beautiful island, of these amazing people that have turned into my extended family. This island has inspired me in huge ways and I feel an obligation to create art during this great time of change and progress. Over the past few weeks I have watched a colony ban together to fight for what they believe in and prove to the world that the people can be heard! I feel the island pulsing with energy and pride and I have never experienced this type of beauty. I am no Boricua, but I am with you.
I was very fortunate to have joined the Silver Hill Atelier in the Bahamas this past May to help paint this beautiful set of 4 murals. To be clear I had nothing to do with the planning of this mural, I was a hired brush- and I am so honored to have helped bring these murals to life. There were 2 very large murals created in the lobby of this luxury resort along with 2 rotundas that were completely hand-painted. I am very thankful for such a wonderful opportunity and I am thrilled with how it came out.